Two months ago, an anonymous student came forward to us and expressed their concerns about an individual from the York community who, according to the tipster, is known to take advantage of and assault inebriated women. We promised the student who came to us with this information that we would do everything we possibly can to help the survivors tell their stories, and possibly put an end to the alleged perpetrator’s actions.
But there was a caveat: we needed the tipster’s help to contact all the parties involved. And they were initially compliant.
After consulting an expert in journalism ethics to ensure we follow the right protocols in investigating this story, we explored our options. While we did that, we were awaiting the tipster to forward us the names and contact information of all the parties involved, including the alleged perpetrator, victims, and witnesses.
This information came to us in early September, but as of now — almost three months later — our tipster has gone silent.
As a journalist and an editor for a publication, it’s common to have tipsters coming to us with hopes of telling a story to the community, whether it be something as simple as covering an event, to something as important as a scandal. But, on the scandal side, such as allegations of sexual assault, it’s a bit more difficult to follow through on the story without the help of the tipster because of how important it is to have every side’s input — dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s, if you speak in clichés.
So, when a tipster falls through on a story like this, I’m left with an overwhelming sense of frustration and unavailing helplessness. As journalists, our loyalties lay with the truth; we’re here to push for change and hold those deserving accountable. After all, that was the original intention of the press, and something I stand by now.
If this story checks out, I imagine the fear and pain the alleged victims experienced from the sexual assault far outweighs the witnesses’ fears associated with coming forward about a friend.
What is most frustrating as a journalist is that this information is crucial to having an impact, not only on our campus, but on society as a whole. How can I push for justice on behalf of the victims without actually having a story to tell?
What is most frustrating as a woman is that the tipster, who has essentially ghosted us, is just as complicit in allowing the actions of a predator to continue. They admitted many people (friends) know about this, and often joke about it. Not only that, but I wonder: why hasn’t anyone reported this to the police or campus security?
Addressing sexual assault is a difficult thing to do, and witnesses who often come forward fear backlash or social repercussions, so I applaud this individual for wanting to share this story. But mentioning this has been going on for years, that York community members have been aware and often joke about the situation, then disappearing on us is not the appropriate way to help these alleged victims, or cope with your guilt.
If this story checks out, I imagine the fear and pain the alleged victims experienced from the sexual assault far outweighs the witnesses’ fears associated with coming forward about a friend. But how could we, or anyone, ever know? Our only informant has gone AWOL.
Go to the police, or even York security, and stand up to those who are treating sexual assault like a joke — these women are human beings. They deserve more respect.
A third-party is also not enough to prove allegations — but not only that, allegations such as these can destroy a person’s reputation. The press will always need further information about the parties involved, including who the alleged victims are, and contact information. All we have is the name of the accused.
I understand coming forward to tell this story may be difficult. But, you must consider the importance of coming to a publication with this information before doing so. If you take the leap of faith to begin the process of uncovering injustices with the help of the press, follow through. We are here to help people tell their story, but we need your help to do it too.